Energy, environmental groups urge quick action by Congress on energy efficiency


Barack Obama
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 30, 2008 – An alliance of energy and environmental groups have urged Congress to support advanced metering, smart grid and other energy efficiency initiatives in order to boost the nation’s energy efficiency, create green jobs, and save energy and money.

In a document outlining an “Energy efficiency and economic recovery initiative,” the Alliance to Save Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Energy Future Coalition and Natural Resources Defense Council present a set of proposals aimed at “jump-starting a green jobs market, using the skilled and underemployed construction sector work force that is ready and waiting, and stimulating a large secondary market in product and equipment sales.”

The initiative has the national goal of retrofitting 2 million buildings over the next two years to substantially reduce their energy use.

The organizations propose that Congress should provide $13 billion in the economic recovery bill to states to promote energy efficiency. States in turn would provide funding under the grants program to entities such as utilities, cooperatives, energy service companies and school districts for retrofits in homes and public and commercial buildings – including energy audits and advanced metering – and for a federal/state matching fund.

Reducing energy consumption in federal buildings through efficiency upgrades, energy audits, metering and building improvements is also encouraged with funding of $1.2 billion recommended in the economic recovery bill.

Smart grid investments should also be promoted. Congress should provide $1 billion for DOE to provide matching funds for qualifying smart grid investments under Section 1306 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and to provide full funding for smart grid demonstration projects under Section 1304 of the EISA.

Funding is also recommended for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program authorized under the EISA to help states further reduce their total energy use, reduce emissions related to fossil fuel use, and improve energy efficiency across all sectors. Other proposals range from low income home weatherization, strengthened national model building energy codes and workforce training, to extending and enhancing the existing residential and commercial federal tax incentives for energy efficiency programs.

President-elect Obama and congressional advocates have indicated a clear desire to take up legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The organizations believe that energy efficiency should be a key element of any federal response to climate concerns.

“Energy efficiency programs offer both immediate and long-term benefits by creating green jobs, helping to mitigate rising energy costs and reducing emissions related to global warming,” say the organizations. “We hope Congress will move quickly on these critical issues.”